Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marrying Your Self

It feels more like a symptom than a feel-good story, but a woman named Yasmin Eleby just married her Self. Apparently, no one else wanted to marry her. After much cajoling and persuasion—and no small amount of stroking-- her Self agreed to marry her.

Eleby held a ceremony. She invited her friends and family. She had bridesmaids. She and her Self exchanged vows. As you might guess, they are inseparable.

One does not really want to think of how they went about consummating said marriage, but one suspects that neither party would have had much trouble finding a willing partner.

Of course, such sexual experiences used to be called “self-abuse” but we enlightened Westerners have gotten beyond that.

One hopes that they will live happily ever after.

It sounds perfect, but problems do arise. If you are married to your Self, how do you ever get any alone time? Don’t you have a right to have some time away from your Self?

When you go out to dinner do you insist on an extra seat for your Self? When you sign your Christmas cards or any other cards, do you say: Love from Yasmin and her Self. And, whose picture do you put on the face of the card: Yasmin and an empty chair?

As it happens, the Eleby, the happy bride is still open to marrying someone who is not her Self. But, can she do so without first divorcing her Self?

But, then, does she have to pay alimony to her Self. What if her Self refuses to move out of the house? 

Obviously, this sounds like a skit from Saturday Night Live. Or like a story straight out of the Onion.

In truth, it’s straight out of our very own therapy culture. Or better, out of New York Magazine.

There Ann Friedman susses out the philosophical underpinnings of this movement:

And I’ve taken to heart the most-Instagrammed Kierkegaard quote of all time: “Above all do not forget your duty to love yourself.” Yet once we reach adulthood, these aphorisms are almost exclusively directed to single people — single women, in particular. Too often, self-love is presented as a way station on the road to romantic love. The self, and our desire to commit to it, apparently disappears once another person is in the picture. Even RuPaul’s self-esteem rallying cry is framed in terms of relationships with other people: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

From Kierkegaard to RuPaul: tell me we have not made progress.

At the dawn of modern existentialism, Kierkegaard declared that you have a duty to love yourself. Denizens of today’s therapy culture, led by the incomparable RuPaul have declared that self-love is the royal road to loving someone else… to say nothing of being loved by someone else.

This recalls the Biblical injunctions to love your neighbor and to love God.

As Jesus Christ put it in Mark, 12:

The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

You may or may not agree with these laws, but you will notice that they are other directed. The Bible is not telling you to love your Self. The Bible is telling you to love what is now called a higher authority and also to show love for your neighbor.

One suspects that a woman who loves her Self and who makes it a way of life does not have very much love left over for anyone else. I doubt that you can love other people unless  you follow moral principles that are larger than either you or your Self. Otherwise, you will not be able to love anyone but your Self. 

You can console yourself for having followed bad advice by marrying your Self, but doesn't that demonstrate where Kierkegaard, RuPaul and company are leading you.

Friedman offers much good advice for going about loving your Self. I would recommend that the best way to love your Self is to begin by loving other people, your neighbor, perhaps. You can only do so by following principles that are larger than yourself, your whims and your wishes.

What about your duties and responsibilities to other people? If you are married to your Self you can be confident that your Self will always show up on time. But, isn’t that a bad way to learn how to deal with human beings--like your neighbor-- who might not manifest the same degree of punctuality?

Just to make you feel better about loving your Self, this morning Dr. Marisa Weiss, an oncologist makes the case against living alone in the Wall Street Journal. She thinks it's going to make you very, very sick:

Social isolation can be lethal. Research shows that living life alone is as dangerous as smoking or obesity. And when it comes to the five most common cancers affecting men and women, being married provided a greater survival benefit than chemotherapy (the benefit was greater for men than women).

What are the healthy things that happen when you share your life? You’re more likely to follow and share regular routines, rhythms and rituals: Cook healthier foods and share meal times with someone you can relate to, process your day with, bounce ideas off of, and exchange stories with. You’re more likely to have intimacy: getting naked, being touched, and having sex with, which generally makes you feel better, take better care of yourself, and feel more attractive. Family, friends and partners can also help keep you safer by helping you avoid excessive indulgences, vices and dangerous behaviors. Plus, sharing the stress, strain, tasks, responsibilities and cost of living by combining resources makes life much easier.

People living alone may miss these many ways to feel vital, fortified, connected, supported and valued. Further, they are more likely to smoke, drink and be overweight; have employment issues, worse medical insurance and struggle with other emotional issues, like anxiety and depression.

So, the question is: if you marry your Self, will you still be living alone?  


Sam L. said...

Alone? Not if your Self wants a dog or a cat, but then, they don't talk back to you. Conversation, none. I lived alone for a long time, but I got out of my apartment, or house, for work and trips and such. Prefer being married.

Ares Olympus said...

Its hard to make much sense in this, unless you've got multiple personalities perhaps, but that sounds more like a divorce than a marriage.

I'll go with Kierkegaard's other famous quote: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

I'd guess the "problem" is many women grow up as girls believing marriage will make them "whole", and so apparently that "myth" contains destructive sides that need to be opposed in some counter-myth, however strange such efforts looks from the outside.

It's often said women who divorce or are widowed in later life do better than men, or at least these divorced women in general do "self-care" better than divorced men, and they live longer alone, and see less reason to remarry if they are financially supported without marriage.

On the other hand, my dad's only aunt never expected to marry and she married after 50 and obviously never had kids, and so maybe what's happening with this woman is just a mourning phase for giving up the idea of her own family, and this woman will move past and and see companionship of a spouse more attractive later?

Anonymous said...

Only in this country can we have this idiocy. Why is this even a story? I'll just chalk this up to someone being a fruitcake or needing some serious attention. Either way, chuckling at this stupidity and moving on...

Blahgga the Hutt

sestamibi said...

Didn't Dennis Rodman already do this?

Lindsay Harold said...

Marrying yourself = pathological narcissism.

In real human relationships, one has to get used to having differences of opinion, caring about someone besides oneself, resolving conflict in healthy ways, being generous (even when it isn't convenient), and other similar virtues.

I suspect that people who marry themselves have found no one willing to marry them because they have a serious lack in these social behaviors and are too self-absorbed to be a good partner with someone who is a real person and not merely a reflection of their own self and their own opinions and desires. These people need to spend LESS time thinking of their own wants, not more.

Ares Olympus said...

re: Lindsay Harold said...
Marrying yourself = pathological narcissism.

We can agree Lindsay, but I'm wondering how do we help. I mean how should her friends help her?

Did any of her friends reject the idea and express opinions like what was expressed in this blog and comments?

Of course that would be rude. But if it's rude in friendship, is it still rude if it's someone you don't know and don't care about?

How do you best "care about someone besides oneself" when offering opinions towards their decisions?

And it's a tricky thing unless you're good at reading people. Was it merely whimsical? Was she just wanting a party?

And even if it is a joke at some level, perhaps there's hidden depression and a hidden punchline of a suicide coming?

That might be the only way to "top" a narcissistic self-marriage?

And they say women attempt suicide as much as men, but use less lethal means and fail more, so maybe we can just trust she'll be incompetent if she tried?